Not just for notes. P.S. Notes is a Writing App!

Straight to the point: Get the latest version of P.S. Notes. I can no longer build for the PPA so you will need to download and install the new version. Instructions at the page.

Folders, Markdown, and Writing Apps

Folders will show up in the notes list! They are shown with a “/” before their name, so a folder named SubFolder will display as /SubFolder in the notes list. When you go into a folder, select the / … from the notes list to go back.

There are also new markdown editing shortcuts. Ctrl+B and Ctrl+I will **bold** and _italicize_ your selected text. Ctrl+1 through Ctrl+6 toggle ## Headings to the current line of text, and Ctrl+\ and Ctrl+Shift+\ will increase or decrease the heading level. I plan to update these shortcuts to function more naturally as they add markdown styles to your text, knowing when to un-bold and remove markdown styling when you want them to, for example.

Finally… There’s no app I’ve found that provides a great plain-text writing environment in Linux. The great app Notes-Up gives me hope that we can someday get a fantastic looking, highly functional Ulysses-like app for Linux. It excels at what it does as a simple writing app or for locally saved note taking (try it out!) but it has a different purpose than P.S. Notes or the ideal writing app I’m looking for.

A lot of apps will save data in a special format, so they are very closed (dare I say, proprietary) in the sense that data you put into it stays there unless you take action to specifically export it. The apps control and own the data, not you. The goal with my apps like DayJournal and P.S. Notes is to be completely open – all the data you put into them is 100% completely accessible without the app, and can be manipulated elsewhere seamlessly. You own the data, not it.

I’ve found that once I got used to my data being open and available outside the apps I use to manage it, the benefits are huge and there are no downsides! With DayJournal and Blip Journal, the real product I want to create is a simple standard structure of saving journal entries, and the apps themselves are just examples of how an app can manage fully open plain-text data and be as functional as any other app that isn’t open. With P.S. Notes, the idea was to create a note-taking app that stored everything in plain text files in my Dropbox folder, letting me use any various mobile apps to access those notes (the best app for this is Jottings for iPhone). There’s no manually naming files, no file dialogs to open a single file to edit, no hassle.

So, the point is that I’m making P.S. Notes into the writing app I need in Linux. Under the hood is some magic to assist with writing!

In the big update last year, I added a Write Mode to P.S. Notes that hides the notes list and centers your text while perfectly preserving the width of the text, leaving nice margins for a distraction-free writing experience. This detail of preserving the width of the text is a necessity to calling a writing experience “distraction-free” but sadly it’s not found in many markdown writing apps available for Linux (and the ones that do have it don’t have a file list/tree available in the app, which is an even bigger necessity! And none have both, which is why this blog post exists).

P.S. Notes also assists with writing books. A folder is treated as a “book” if it has the right file structure, and features like automatically compiling your work into an .epub file are available to try out. If you are interested in trying this, leave a comment to get in touch!

There’s no other open plain-text writing app that can do the things I need for Linux. I honestly don’t want P.S. Notes to be the best at what it does. The best should be much better than what P.S. Notes is. But as long as it needs to be the best, I will try and make it so.


2 thoughts on “Not just for notes. P.S. Notes is a Writing App!

  1. So glad to see a rise in feature rich, plaintext apps! I wanted to point out Manuskript to you which has similar goals outlined in your blogpost on May 2017.I actually used Manuskript for Work, sadly there’s still lots to be done. Your app is very close to what I envision for my “perfect” writing app, I was wondering – would you consider add the option to create folders/subfolders within PSNotes? And perhaps an export function via pandoc or mmd etc?

    I dont want to bog you down with requests though. Great little app I hope you keep updating it!

    • Thank you for the comment!

      Manuskript is cool, but I don’t think it saves data in a folder of simple plain-text files (meaning, not compatible with mobile). For writing, with the power of Dropbox I use PS Notes, then sometimes LightPaper (could also use Ulysses) on Mac, and 1Writer (writing a book) and Jottings (notes) on iPhone.

      Any exporting features probably won’t happen for a while. So for now, do: View current notebook files, then open your file in another more specific markdown application for that part of it.

      However, there are actually some hidden features I’ve built in to help me with writing a book. When a certain format/directory structure is used, it automatically compiles scenes into chapters, and then chapters into an .epub file and more. Let me know if you’d like to try this, and I can give you more details and an example.

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